Treme: Series 1 review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Treme is a mixed genre show boasting an ensemble cast set in the Treme district of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. From the makers of The Wire Treme has received incredibly positive reviews all round, many partially noting its soundtrack. The show is undeniably rooted in it’s Louisiana setting; the southern heat of the sun coupled with the on-going turbulent relationship between the Treme locals and police come seething out from the New Orleans jazz music, whilst the thick honey-like accent makes the characters unravel into genuine and believable Louisiana folk.
The show has a very varied ensemble cast, ranging from the effervescent John Goodman and CSI: Miami’s Khandi Alexander to The Wire’s own Wendel Pierce; each of the characters find their lives affected, and quite often devastated, by the hurricane. Goodman, who plays author and academic Creighton Barrnette, is politically enraged by the Government’s apathy toward New Orleans after Katrina, whilst Pierce’s character, a jazz trombonist is constantly looking for work in a city where few have the money to spend on their homes, let alone local music.
Yet the music of New Orleans reigns and rumbles through with every swell and dip in the show’s plot. The casting and music are both completely deserving of the strong praise the show has received. Other aspects of the show have been a little problematic however; the show does not seem to know where it lies generically. It was marketed as a political drama, with much emphasis on the destruction of New Orleans, yet there is little of the tension and vigour of a political drama, rather the show chugs along like a heavy steam train, crushing all the weaker things that lie before it, but providing you with ample time to vacate the tracks.
The show is almost meandering at times, the ensemble cast means that the show lacks any real hook, the only pull being the emotional intrigue felt for the characters. Luckily the characters are strong enough to hold your interest, but the less patient of us may struggle to get past the first quarter of the series.
For a show that is seemingly based on a catastrophic disaster, very little seems to happen, each of the characters is troubled by some change brought on by the hurricane, yet there are no cliff hangers, no moments of suspense or even particularly strong plot lines. Treme is at its heart a simple relationship drama, that searches out the good and the bad brought out in people by natural disasters. It delves into the hearts and souls of the people living in Treme and allows us a truly honest look at humanity.